Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Understanding Light

How to make the best of light.
I think when you first pick up a camera there are so many variables in taking an image it can at times confuse so many people. The one variable you always have to be aware of is light and its effects. 

The right time
You will hear so many photographers talk about "The Golden Hour" for taking outside images, whether its landscapes, urban etc these is always a right and wrong time. You do not want to be out in bright harsh summer sun, all you will get is harsh images, over exposed skies and deep shadows. Try and get out early, before the sun comes up and use the light before the sun is fully risen, the light is much more gentle. If early rising is not for you then work toward the end of the day, be out and about as the sun starts to set to get that same gentle light.

Reflect and rejoice
Sunlight on water is wonderful, get it right and you will get a beautiful cast of the sunrise/set colours over the water that will add another dimension to your image. Use reflections too, both the clouds and the boat in this image are reflected back on the water and the details can be seen as there is no harsh light in the image.

Try and expose for the sky, if you meter for the land there is a good chance you will over expose the sky. One way to combat this is through filters, I use soft ND grads which allow me to expose for the land and keep the sky from over exposing. They also allow me to shoot more toward the sun without blowing it out. If you are serious about landscape photography I cannot recommend them enough.

Be aware of where your light source is and its role in your images composure, get it wrong and it will throw the whole image out. In this shot its not central, it sits to the right and the boat to the left to give the image a sense of balance but it also casts a hue throughout the image that gives the colour balance too.

Never lose focus of the shadows too, they play as vital a role as the light does. In this image I was very concious of the dappled sand in the foreground when I took this image. I got down low to ensure it was there and the fact the shadows added texture to the image. They sit in contrast with the clouds that add a dappled counter in the sky/background to the foreground.

This image only works because of the light, its taken in the golden hour and the warm tones give a warm feeling to the viewer. Coupled with the fact there is no harsh light or dark then the details of the image can be seen and with that the viewer wants to look around the image. 

Light is the biggest ally you have in photography but it can also be your worse enemy if you dont use it right.

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